Gracious redemption – Zaccheus – 24 July 2020
By Louise Gevers
What would you do if you were so short that you couldn’t see over the heads of others in a crowd; especially when there was something spectacular to see?
As a child, I was fascinated by the account of an adult Zaccheus having to climb a tree to see Jesus because he was so short. I was short, and loved climbing trees, so it made a lot of sense to me. I was just as fascinated (and delighted) that Jesus should want to go to his house, and wondered if Jesus had chosen to do that because He could see him better up the tree than He could everyone else on the ground.
What would you have thought?
Zaccheus was a man with a mission. Reports of the charismatic Teacher and his miracles had reached him, and he knew that he needed to see him for himself; he needed answers, but many people would be lining the roads and thronging around him. As chief tax-collector he was despised anyway; he couldn’t be concerned with the reactions of others at this crucial time. He would see Jesus at any cost, and didn’t care if the means he used brought him ridicule.
Jesus didn’t disappoint him; He not only saw Zacchaeus, but reached out in an unexpected way to the grown man up the sycamore tree. With grace and kindness, Jesus told the corrupt, unpopular man, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today” (Luke 19:5) amidst much protest from the people who saw Zaccheus as a ‘sinner’; but Jesus has a divine appointment with every sinner.
Jesus’ appointment with Zaccheus immediately changed his heart and attitude. The years of wrong dissolved and overjoyed, he promised to give half his possessions to the poor, and pay back four times as much to anybody he’d cheated. This is real redemption that everyone needs.
Only through His love and acceptance does Jesus change what we are unable to change in ourselves: the ‘Zacchaeus’ in society, as well the ‘good’ crowd. There is no one ‘too bad’, and no one ‘too good’ for Jesus to redeem. There are no tall people in Jesus’ Presence – we are all short – but a real experience of His redeeming power is waiting for those who climb the tree.
Prayer: Lord, what welcome words for us sinners to hear: Today your sins are forgiven; you, and your family, are true Believers. Thank You for Your mercy and transforming grace. Amen